Shipping Bicycles: a Delicate Matter?
Over the past couple of years, I have gotten the sense that shipping bicycles in the USA has become increasingly difficult - particularly bikes that are larger and heavier than a standard modern roadbike. Bike boxes aren't typically made large enough anymore, and the correct size can be next to impossible to hunt down. Shipping companies can give dramatically incorrect estimates for what the service will cost (this happened to me the last time I sold a bike and shipped it myself). And there are lots of accounts of bikes getting damaged in transit despite careful packaging.
For the recipient, receiving a damaged bicycle can be heartbreaking - especially if the damage is something major, like a dent in the frame. For the sender, damage in transit can mean having to pay for it, or at least meeting the recipient half way, if the shipment was not insured or the insurance does not come through.
Personally the only way I feel comfortable shipping a bicycle now is via a bike shop. Yes, we can pack bicycles ourselves and we can do an excellent job. But nonetheless we are not recognised as "professionals." Bike shops are. This apparently can play a role if there is damage in transit and an insurance claim is filed. "Was the bike professionally packed?"
Unfortunately not all bike shops are willing to ship bicycles anymore, especially not large or heavy bikes. This seems to be a recent development: A couple of shops in my neighbourhood used to offer this service, but stopped a year or two ago. Still, in my view finding a good bike shop that does provide the service is worth it. And getting the shipment insured is a must.
What has been your experience with shipping or receiving bicycles over the past year? Do you prefer to ship bikes yourself or to use the services of a bike shop? And in cases of damage in transit, how was the situation resolved? Tips and advice much appreciated.